A Travellerspoint blog

Anjuna, Goa

by Melanie

semi-overcast 87 °F

We didn't make any of the all-night dance parties on the beach that Goa is known for... but thanks to $4 scooters, Goa is amazing!

We arrived in India near the end of its monsoon season. Most tourists don't start flocking to Goa until October (peak season begins in December) so the three of us white girls walking onto a beach is like a strolling gold mine for the Indian peddlers. Yesterday I found myself overwhelmed for the first time. I was unprepared for the onslaught of solicitors. Though I could have come out worse, I did end up with a handful of black henna I didn't want in the first place. It's quite lovely when examined at close range, but from a distance it's a scary black glove. (Lemon is supposed to remove the henna, but a 10 minute scrub with a lime made no progress today... so I'm doubtful that any citrus would have much diminishing power.) While the henna was being drawn on, a girl planted herself at my feet, introduced herself, and proceeded to adorn my toes with rings and lay piles of sarongs over my legs. I chatted with her for so long I began to feel committed (newbie that I am) and finally gave her 100 rupees ($2) just to not feel like a bad person.

This morning we rented two scooters! SO FUN! Swhite tried one but felt too wobbly, so she rode behind Brie. There's not much going on in each town, but zipping between all the little oceanside villages was exhilirating! We had fun honking our wee scooter horns. The honking definitely serves a purpose, notifying people that you're about to pass or are approaching around a tight corner. And of course there's the honk to say hello.

First we went to Baga, the town just south of Anjuna. The shore was crowded with Indians wading into the waves and lounging on beach chairs. We walked along the water to find a less populated spot. Within seconds we were surrounded by sales people and 3 Indian wrestlers in speedo-sized undies. It was hilarious because they were so brash, and when we were sitting on the sand their waistline hung a couple feet from our raised eyebrows.

We noticed a shift in the sky: insta-rain. We started to sprint toward the covered restaurants and made it only halfway before the downpour began. Sudden sprinting is always fun, it's an adrenaline rush and laugh-worthy every time. I'm definitely glad that we're here for some of the monsoon season. The mad dash to escape the buckets of water is a communal event. We can't speak Hindi, but we can hide from the rain together!

The women trying to sell us their wares have been commenting on our skin color. Our favorite comparison so far is that Sarah and I are "white like prized chickens" while the sun tanned Brie is "brown like chocolate". I also had someone try to match a brown dress to the color of my freckles.

We decided to give ourselves trip names. After my new pants (called Ali Baba pants) I am Meli Baba. Sarah is Chara (the Indian version of her name) and thanks to Gabrielle's chocolate colored skin she is Koko.

It's Sunday night and we were all ready for bed when there was a knock at the door. An Australian high on horse tranquilizers came in, killed a crab-sized spider on the wall, and has been sitting here telling us stories about his last 3 months of travel in India. It's making me think that we only have 6 1/2 weeks left and we should be getting going... if only we knew how... Our Mumbai hostel owner booked our bus down, and because it's off season there don't seem to be many buses or trains going out. Tomorrow will be interesting.

For now,
Meli Baba

Posted by 3ifBySEA 16:53 Archived in India Comments (7)

Mumbai/Bombay/Bollywood

sunny 90 °F
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People say that either you love India, or you hate it. We're two days in and absolutely feeling the love!

Brie and I arrived at 1am in Mumbai. We're told that the airport is surrounded by Dhorval, Asia's largest slum with around 1 million people living in it. Swhite saw it flying in, just rows and rows of shaks, mostly covered in tarps.

We met up with Swhite at the hostel, the Anjali Inn. The owner, Raj, is fantastic. He's animated and helpful. He lives here with I don't know how many family members... I've seen about 8 coming and going so far. Our first morning he made us breakfast and suggested that we go for a ride with his friend/driver and three chaps from the hostel to "see Bombay". Driving from the hostel to central Bombay took an hour. The sprawl is massive, 16 million people live here. Yesterday was the Festival. It features teams of men in neon shirts climbing on eachother shoulders trying to reach a dangling clay container full of milk. All of the teams were transported in semi-sized open bedded trucks from which men were dangling and cheering in all directions. Whenever they caught sight of us there whooped and hollered extra enthusiastically. We even got some dance moves, accompanied by gleaming white grins.

Our first destination was Juhu beach. It was dirty. There were two 5 year old boys stripped down to their undies that waded into the water, but the rest of the crowd was there simply to stand in the cool breeze. This was the first place we were asked to pose for photos with random Indian men, or entire families. I was surprised how feet white people there are here. We've seen about 10 over the last two days. Men stare blatantly at us. A little awkward at first, but we realized that it's an open invitation to stare back. Recriprocal people watching. The women's saris are truly beautiful! So many brilliant colors, beaded and sequined patterns. Most of the men are in slacks and button down shirts.

The next stop was Hanging Gardens Park. Aside from a nice view of cityscape across the bay, there wasn't much going on the park. My guess is that the driver didn't want to deal with a busier area of town. From there there we went to Coloba, where we saw the Gate of India, the Taj Hotel.

  • it was dinnertime so this entry didn't get finished. BUT read on to Melanie's entry on Goa after Swhite and I sum up Mumbai*

Mumbai Day 2: Crazy nation of transportation!

We ventured downtown on our own which was once again busy, sweaty and overwhelming. We took our first rickshaw ride, and then braved the commuter train... dun dun dun. After wandering around the university and Crawford Market where we were followed by an eager short man who referred to himself as some kind of market guide "just look, no buy" we decided to allow plenty of time to get back via commuter train to the hostel. Thankfully we chose the "Ladies Only-First Class Coach our other choices were First Class, Second Class or Handicapped and Cancer Patients. After about two stops we were sardined in there so tight at one point I thought my feet weren't even touching the floor! It was a group effort getting off; I wish we could communicate the cute accents of the women who so willingly and enthusiastically guided our dismount.

Next up, a 15 hour (we were told 12) overnight SEMI-sleeper bus trip to Goa.

Posted by 3ifBySEA 21:35 Archived in India Comments (0)

intro to our fabulous adventure

"the plan"

62 °F
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It's Saturday night in Yakima, WA and Melanie and I are getting pumped and organized for our flight on Tuesday to Mumbai. We'll arrive at 1am on the morning of September 2nd where we will meet our third teammate Sarah (Swhite). So now let's introduce the troublemakin' trio and how we all came together for this journey:

I just returned to Washington last week after an incredible year in Charleston, South Carolina where I moved for an internship. I have tentativeley decided to lead a gypsy-esque lifestyle for a while (minus the stealing) of working for a while, travelling for a while, moving around etc until I decide otherwise. I didn't have a plan for after leaving Charleston until Swhite suggested this India and Southeast Asia adventure and I happily got on board!

Melanie joined the crew after deciding to leave her job at Saturna Capital in Bellingham, Washington where she worked for over three years and finished as a Brokerage Operations Manager. She's grateful for the opportunity but knew her heart just wasn't in it and was ready to make a move. Melanie is stoked for the trip and is hoping to be inspired with a great idea or possibility for her next step.

Swhite and I went to high school together and have stayed tight since. She has been living in Norwich, England for the past four years going to college at the University of East Anglia. She has a passion for travel and great compassion for people in the world and I'm so glad she came up with this genius idea and invited me along. Swhite and I have a lot in common, especially now when we are both avoiding getting real jobs!

Now for an outline of our tentative itinerary:

September 2nd: Arrive in Mumbai, India and meet up with Swhite
-we have 7 weeks before flying out of India and plan on spending most of our time in the northern states as well as making our way North to Kathmandu, Nepal

October 19th: Fly from Calcutta, India to Bangkok, Thailand
-we have 6 weeks to travel around Southeast Asia before we fly out of Singapore
-we plan to visit Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and Singapore

December 1st: Fly from Singapore to Manila, Philippines
-we will spend our last 2 weeks in the Philippines before returning home

December 14th: all three of us will arrive in Seattle

The three of us are sharing this blog and will all be posting things over the next three and a half months. We also have a trip map that we will post so you can see our progress!

thanks for following!

-gabrielle-

Posted by 3ifBySEA 22:55 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (9)

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